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Vikings place third in Williams Route 66 Holiday Basketball Classic

Christian Plascencia drives to the hoop against Joseph City Dec. 4 during the Route 66 Holiday Basketball Classic. The Vikings defeated Joseph City 52-45. Ryan Williams/WGCN

Christian Plascencia drives to the hoop against Joseph City Dec. 4 during the Route 66 Holiday Basketball Classic. The Vikings defeated Joseph City 52-45. Ryan Williams/WGCN

WILLIAMS, Ariz. - Despite some early shooting challenges, the Williams High School Vikings basketball team finished the Route 66 Holiday Basketball Classic with a 3-1 record, giving them a third place finish out of eight teams.

The Vikings opened the tournament on Thursday with a hard fought 52-45 win over Joseph City. Head coach Rico Dunn said the team's offense struggled as they looked to incorporate the returning Leo Lopez.

"The tournament opener was the first time we have had all our guys for a game this year," Dunn said. "Obviously it is going to take some time to build the chemistry we need to maximize our offense. Until that time we will rely on our ability to cause turnovers to help us win games."

Even though the Vikings shot about 39 percent from the field, they were able to outscore their opponents for the win.

In his debut, Lopez scored 11 points, grabbed 11 rebounds, one steal, forced four turnovers, and had two assists on the way to his first double-double of the season. Martin Soria also put up 11 points and five steals. Andrew Karlsberger led all scoring with 13 points.

The Vikings' second game on Thursday was a rematch with Chino Valley that resulted in a 60-57 win for Williams. The Vikings had previously defeated Chino Valley on Dec. 2 with a score of 64-35.

During the tournament matchup, Dunn said the Vikings continued to struggle with shooting.

"We need to take great shots and not force things," Dunn said. "With the talent on this team we seem to get into grooves where we think we can afford quick shots but our stat line has proven otherwise. Obviously we will be spending more time shooting next week during practice."

Lopez led all scoring with 17 points and 15 rebounds to put together another double-double. Soria and Karlsberger helped out defensively with six and five steals respectively.

On Friday the Vikings had a tough 64-32 loss against Needles. Williams' shooting woes continued, while Needles only missed one shot in the first quarter. The combination built up a deficit that proved to be too much for the Vikings to overcome.

"Needles is a great team with a great coach," Dunn said. "Their kids are very disciplined."

Only Soria was able to push his scoring into double digits. None of the Vikings got into double digits in rebounds.

On Saturday night, the Vikings bounced back and defeated Seligman by a score of 62-41. Lopez's minutes were limited but he put up seven points in the four minutes he played. Christian Plascencia led the team with 17 points and 11 rebounds. Austin Kennelly also had a good game scoring 15 points.

At the end of the three days, Plascencia and Lopez earned All-Tournament honors.

This week, the Vikings played Ash Fork at home on Tuesday after the News went to print. The team will play at Rancho Solano on Thursday, at home against Sedona on Friday and at home against Northland Preparatory Academy on Monday. Junior varsity plays at 4 p.m. and varsity plays at 7 p.m.

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